European Masters Indoors Championships, Braga, Portugal 20th-27th February 2022.
Report by Ken Higgs.
Last week I spent several days competing in the European Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in Braga , northern Portugal. I went out there with a mix of excitement and trepidation, as this was my first time on the European stage and a huge step up (well out of my comfort zone). Thankfully, I was in the company of clubmate Hugh McSweeney who had been and done it before. All week, Hugh was great company, quietly composed but with a steely determination. His calmness and focus (not to mention his dry sense of humour) kept me on track.
National Record, Sliver & Gold Medals.
Despite a major disruption to his training (Hugh had Covid in January), he had an incredibly successful week. A silver medal in the M75 400m, 4th place in the 200m with a Irish national record and then the icing on the cake.. a gold medal in the M70+ 4 x 200m relay. It was great to see the very high regard the other Irish team athletes have for Hugh. There is no stopping him now and I suspect he has his eye on the World Masters indoor championships in Canada next year!
Pipped to the post by a Football Legend.
An interesting side story to Hugh’s 400m final is that he was pipped to the gold medal by a Romero, apparently a Spanish football legend who played for Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the 60’s and 70’s.
A Wonderful Experience.
From a personal point of view I was truly delighted to make the M70 400m final, where I came 5th with a PB. I am so glad I went to Braga to test myself and to learn more about what is needed to compete at this level. It was a real blast. Finally, I believe there are many runners in the club who could have success at both national and International masters track events. So I say …just give it a go!
EXTRACTS FROM THE IRISH MASTERS ATHLETICS ASSOCIATION BRAGA 2022 REPORT
The Irish Masters Team Ireland returned from the European Masters Track & Field Championships in Braga 2022 with a massive total of 59 medals. Ireland finished 7th overall in the medals table out of the 43 participating countries
It is very hard to single out any Individual performances without acknowledging the triple Gold won by Anne Gilshinan over 800, 1500 and 300ms. Double Gold for Denise Toner, 3000m and 1500m plus Annette Quaid (Leevale AC) 400m & 800m. Double Gold also for Sean McMullin over 5km Road Race Walk and 3000m RW. Perennial winner, Joe Gough overturned the tables on 800m winner Paul Forbes when capturing the 1500m title. What made this all the more remarkable is that Joe is just a few months shy of his 70th birthday and Paul had broken Joes 1500m WR just a few weeks beforehand.
A special mention to the 2 oldest team members, Michael Kiely (Rising Sun AC) & Hugh Mc Sweeney (Eagle AC), both 77 returning to the European arena, having last competed in Budapest in the early 90s. Each medalled individually and then dropped down to the M70’s 4 x 200m relay to capture Gold in a very competitive race holding off the Portuguese team by 0.5 of a second. Indeed of the 7 relay Teams, 4 captured gold, 1 silver & 1 bronze, which was a testament to all those who put in the hard work and squad training prior to travelling out to Braga.
Finally in relation to Braga, we would like to acknowledge the generosity of all the athletes from Team Ireland who made a special collection and presented over €2000 plus additional gear & clothing to their Ukrainian compatriots who are still currently stuck out in Portugal, as they are unable to return home due to the Russian invasion. In a very emotional and poignant presentation, the athletes from Ukraine expressed their gratitude to those still present. We can only hope and pray that they can return safely to their families as quickly as possible.